The expected growth of Sweden's ageing population over the next 50 years will have an unprecedented impact on the demand for healthcare. The elderly require more medical check-ups and care than young people as a result of the increased prevalence of chronic disease with age, therefore consuming a disproportionately large share of healthcare services. Such robust demand for services over the coming years has the potential to present private healthcare providers with significant business expansion and revenue-earning opportunities, especially as the government tries to provide healthcare services while containing costs.
Headline Expenditure Projections
- Pharmaceuticals: SEK35.27bn (US$5.54bn) in 2013 to SEK34.65bn (US$5.06bn) in 2014; -1.8% in local currency terms and -8.7% in US dollar terms.
- Healthcare: SEK340.22bn (US$53.46bn) in 2013 to SEK347.84bn (US$50.78bn) in 2013; +2.2% in local currency terms and -5.0% in US dollar terms.
Risk/Reward Rating: Sweden remains viewed as a moderately attractive regional market. On the positive side, factors such as the country's high per capita incomes and strong regulatory foundations will continue to promote per capita spending on pharmaceuticals and healthcare in general. However, the downward pressure on pharmaceutical prices will continue to be acutely felt in this small market of fewer than 10mn people.
Key Trends And Developments
Sweden's healthcare system has been ranked among the best in the world, but the country needs to improve its healthcare coordination to continue delivering quality care, according to a new report released in December 2013. The reports titled 'OECD Health Care Quality Review of Sweden' had been published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The report stated that the country's healthcare system is suffering from some serious governance issues such as the lack of co-ordination in care delivery between hospitals, primary care and local authorities.
In December 2013, the Health Consumer Powerhouse (HCP) report revealed long waiting times in Sweden with regards to patient access to healthcare services. Despite efforts made to reduce the waiting times, the problem has meant the country has been dragged down a European ranking of healthcare providers. The report gave an example that at times teenagers suffering from anorexia have to wait for sixth months for an appointment with specialists. It also highlighted its concern over waiting times for cancer patients.
BMI Economic View: We have lowered our 2013 real GDP growth estimate for Sweden to 0.8% from 1.1% due to poor Q313 real GDP data. Survey data and other leading indicators suggest that the outlook for household consumption and business investment is brightening alongside a recovery in European demand, and we forecast growth accelerating to 2.4% in 2014.
BMI Political View: Sweden is one of the most structurally stable countries in the world. Benefiting from an advanced level of institutional development, a long history of democratic governance and an established foreign policy based on neutrality, the country faces limited underlying risks to political stability over the long term. We stress, however, that Sweden is in the process of a shift in economic policy towards greater liberalisation and foreign integration, which is expected to continue over the next 10 years.